There’s been a lot of talk lately about how bass move, when and why. Most of it is good information. It’ll definitely help you catch more bass this spring, but there’s something else you need to consider: What part of the reservoir are you fishing?
Note that I asked about the reservoir. Everything I’m about to say applies only to manmade bodies of water. Natural lakes and rivers are different and need to be approached differently. We’ll deal with them in future columns.
You can break any reservoir into three parts — the lower part where the dam is located, the upper part where the water flows into the reservoir and the middle part between the two. It’s rare to find the bass biting at the same time in all three sections, but it’s also rare for them to not be biting in one of them. They’re biting somewhere. Your job as an angler is to find that somewhere.
The lower section is typically deeper and clearer. The upper section is almost always much darker and shallower. The middle section will usually be somewhere in between the other two. The sections are not distinct, however. They blend into each other. Nevertheless, they are there, and you can see them on a good map or with your electronics if you run the lake.
These differences cause differences in bass behavior. I’ve never believed that bass move miles from one section to the other. They live where they live and make the best of what that area has to offer. Bass become active in one section or another not because they’ve all moved into that area but because conditions are favorable.
The upper section will warm earlier than the other two. That means that the first prespawn movement as well as the spawn itself will occur there first. So, early in the spring that’s probably your best chance at finding shallow, active bass. As the calendar progresses this movement will happen farther down the lake until the bass in the lower section are in their spawn.
You need to keep all this in mind when you’re thinking about bass movements. All the specific knowledge in the world about travel paths, staging spots or bedding areas won’t do you any good if you’re fishing the wrong section of the reservoir.
All this begs the question: How do I find the right section?
I usually start by thinking about the calendar and the water. If it’s early, I’ll think about the upper section. If it’s late spring, I’ll think about the lower section. And, if it’s somewhere in between, I’ll think about fishing somewhere in between. Once I’ve considered that I’ll check the water temperature, it’s color and think about the surrounding depth.
With that information I’ll be in a position to make an educated guess as the where I should be fishing.
Remember, though, that we’re after fish. Sometimes they don’t do what we think they should. Always — and I do mean always — fish the moment.